Speaking in Tongues begins with an ordinary first day of public school kindergarten in the USA--except that the teacher speaks only Chinese. We are in a language immersion class, where, from day one, students will receive 90% of their instruction in Cantonese. Remarkably, their school will test first in English and math among their district's 76 elementary schools.
Speaking In Tongues will warm your heart and open your mind about the potential of our children to easily learn multiple languages, and what that means for the world in the future. The program is now being used by thousands of teachers, professors, librarians and administrators around the world, and is also influencing education policy reform in the U.S. Congress.
This is the only documentary exploring dual-language immersion programs and their influence on students, families and global society.
Jason is a first generation Mexican-American whose immigrant family embraces bilingualism as the key to full participation in the land of opportunity. Durrell is an African-American kindergartner whose mom hopes that learning Mandarin will be a way out of economic uncertainty and into possibility. Kelly is a Chinese-American recapturing the Cantonese her parents sacrificed to become American. Julian is a Caucasian 8th grader eager to expand his horizons and become a good world citizen.
Using a verite story-telling approach, the film follows the four students as they enter the portal of language and open their minds to new ways of thinking and being in the world. Durrell orders his first Chinatown meal in Mandarin. Kelly learns traditional cooking from her Chinese-speaking grandma. Julian travels to China and bargains for clothes in Mandarin at a Beijing marketplace.
While the kids grow in ease and skill with their second tongue, the grown-ups argue. An angry Chinese dad at a school meeting bellows, "We are in America! We need English!". To explore these contentious debates at the national level, Speaking in Tongues turns to Ling-chi Wang, a community activist who pioneered efforts to establish multilingual education in the United States. Ling-chi laments the nation's stubborn attachment to monolingualism, a phenomenon that masks deeper social tensions about diversity and difference. Employers need employees with multilingual skills, universities spend millions teaching foreign languages, yet the U.S. Congress routinely considers "English-only" legislation, and 31 states have already passed such laws.
Essential for library collections in: Education, Dual-language, Multicultural Education, Language and Culture, Second Language Acquisition, TESL, Teaching Foreign Languages, Linguistic Anthropology, Psychology of Language Skills and Development, Sociolinguistics and International Affairs.
A film by Marcia Jarmel and Ken Schneider.
Praise for Speaking in Tongues:
"As a language teacher, I know how language learning enhances cognitive development. I despair at the paranoia about foreign languages conveyed by some Americans in the film---a similar attitude often prevails in Australia." --Suzanne Mealing, onte Sant 'Angelo College, Sydney, Australia
"Love how it captures 'in action' many language theories/concepts we discuss in academia." --Cyndriel Meimban, Instructor, Program in Intensive English, Northern Arizona University
"This exquisite film gets right to the heart of issues surrounding languages in the U.S. Equally well presented in the film is the powerful and uplifting impact this school reform can have on families and the school community." --Virginia Collier and Wayne Thomas, Professors Emeriti, Bilingual/Multicultural/ESL Education, George Mason University
"Although a great amount of hype was heaped on Waiting for Superman this past year, I was much more satisfied with Speaking in Tongues...it succinctly introduces sound linguistic concepts that are strongly supported by academic research...While European communities take multilingualism in stride, any American community can expect school board battles on this concept." --John Nesbit, Old School Reviews
"Educators like myself have struggled for years with the issues surrounding second language learning. Districts spend millions of dollars on second language learning teachers and resources, yet none of that work holds a candle to the effectiveness of dual language immersion programs."--Matt Murray, Superintendent, Glenns Ferry School District, Idaho
"Speaking in Tongues is a film that needed to be made. With insight and the appeal of children, you have brought alive the vast capability of kids to learn languages and the impact of doing so early and thoroughly. As English grows in use around the globe, you provide a case study in overcoming our linguistic egotism and help show multiple benefits of bi-lingual education." --Westy Egmont, National Immigrant Integration Conference
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